The Power of Intentionality – Part one

It’s 6:15 am. I’m on my couch after meditating watching the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. My three kids and wife are still sleeping. I’m heading in to another day doing what I love to do while my wife and fulltime mother, takes care of my kids during their school holidays. Damn life is good.

But it wasn’t always. I am at the end of a 17 year journey of intentionality. The journey prior to that took about 3 days….let me take you back.

Continue reading “The Power of Intentionality – Part one”

Calm through the Tension

The world around you can be chaotic. But the world inside you, can be calm.

As you go through your day, walking forward step by step on your journey, take a look around you and observe. In particular, the people.

Look at the people engulfed in their phones – existing elsewhere.

Look at the people with frowns on their faces, clearly stressed out – existing elsewhere.

Look at the people gossiping with one another – existing elsewhere.

Look at those reading newspapers, or watching news shows, and reacting shock and concern – existing elsewhere.

There’s an obvious correlation.

The world around you can be chaotic. But the world inside you, can be calm.

And right now, the world is chaotic. Immensely so. Yet, you’ll notice that the only reason the vast majority of people are chaotic themselves is not because of some direct interaction. It is not because they are being directly impacted by whatever it is they’re worrying about. It is because of their technological link to some far flung, distant world, or some other persons dark thoughts and actions.

It is only through the immersion of self in other times and interactions, that you end up excessively stressed and worried.

We do not need to take on the issues of the world. We have no desire to either. Yet, across societies we do so, over and over again.

And we all know how good it feels to ‘switch off’ and go on a break where we are disconnected.

Here’s the challenge for me, as stated by Josh Waitzkin in a podcast: “We want to be able to meditate and have a meditative state throughout our lives – in a hurricane, in a thunderstorm…

My mantra, for the last few years has been this…

I am here. It is now.

That simple statement, repeated in my head, with little or no interaction with other space or time, enables me to deal with my life – the here and now – as effectively as I can. Couple it with a brief sensory focus, like touch or smell, and it becomes even more powerful.

Try it. You can even apply this in a meeting, on the sports field, or during a tense situation.

Be here and now. And enable yourself to give it 100%

Take yourself forward

At times, you can find yourself facing a wall of challenge – a wall of doubt. You wake up and face the day with an underlying question as to whether or not you can do what it is you should be doing. For some this can take them to the depths of despair and depression.

There is only one option when faced with this. Take yourself forward.

I use those words deliberately because it demonstrates the necessary separation between ‘you’ and ‘it’. The mind and the body are linked, intrinsically and physically. They feed off each other. Tired mind, tired body, and vice versa. But it is the spirit that lives within you that drives you forward.

When faced with the inertia of darkness and despair, use your spirit, to pick up and carry your mind and body forward, one step at a time.

Make no mistake about it, your dark thoughts are fuelled by your mind. Your physical fatigue is driven by your body. In both instances, you can decide how you will respond.

Will they define you? Or, will you define them?

Boxers call it heart. Some may call it God, or the divine. Call it what you will, it is the spirit within you that defines you in the moments that are the hardest. Whatever you call it, the only way to push forward through that feeling of inertia is through accessing your inner drive. Your resolve to live this life with meaning and purpose. To have a mission which enables a focus and determination within your spirit.

I have always enjoyed the proverb Footprints in the Sand.

It describes a man reflecting on his life as footprints in the sand. He sees two sets of footprints – one his and one God’s. He notices that when time was toughest, there was only one set; he assumes he was abandoned.

When he asks God why he was abandoned, god replies “I love you and would never leave you. It was then, that I carried you”

You don’t need to be religious to see the power in this truth. You can see it as layers of capability or power within you. However you see it, tapping into the underlying fuel is the only way to truly carry yourself forward in the toughest of times.

Cultivating your spirit, will be a topic of another blog.

Finding meaning in your work

The reality of the world is that a man’s worth is defined by his work.  Every man knows this on the inside, many are prepared to admit it.  Some are prepared to act on it.  Few know how to figure it out. 

I believe there are four types of work out there for a man. Each sits on a continuum which measures the value of contribution from the work, against the level of interest the man has in his work. Let’s break them down.

Doing boring work, that contributes nothing of meaning to you

If this is you, you have ‘Just a Job’. That isn’t bad in itself. This is where the majority of men sit. Men have to do what you have to do and bringing in the paycheck is nothing to be scoffed at. But, sitting here you will not feel fulfilled.

Doing fun interesting work, that contributes nothing of meaning to you

If this is you, you likely have a hobby. I was lucky enough to work as a Scuba Diving Instructor for a while. I also captained a Dolphin Watching boat. They were really fun jobs, and really interesting. But, to me, they didn’t allow me to contribute in the way I wanted them to, because they weren’t challenging. they were hobbies, and I got paid accordingly.

Doing uninteresting work, that contributes significantly to something of meaning to you

If this is you, you likely have a duty. You’re feeling of obligation likely outweighs your feeling of drive and passion. You’re doing what you are doing because you feel you have to, not because you want to. It leads to burnout and eventual resentment for your cause.

Doing interesting work, that contributes significantly to something of meaning to you

If you’re here, you’re in your calling. This is where you can find the deepest level of drive and ambition to achieve. This is where you will reach your flow state in your work; where time can pass in the blink of an eye because you are so into it, and when you come home at night you feel completely fulfilled and you bounce out of bed in the morning to get after it again.

Making the Change

This is the topic of many hundreds of books out there and the centre of thinking for many career coaches. While they all seek to lead to the same place, they can all offer a different method to get there. I have read many of the books, and attended many of the courses to me, the simplest pathway goes like this.

Step One: Identify what is meaningful to you

This can be as simple of sitting down and thinking hard about what you are passionate about. What gets you fired up inside? Or, it can be deeper. For those that need or want the deeper exploration, you can take a 5-why’s approach with a counterpart. I’ll cover this in another blog post.

Step Two: Map out your interests

Again, for some people this can be really simple because they are clear on what spins their wheels. For others, it can be a total blank. If you need the deeper exploration on this, a temporal mapping approach can be really helpful. Again, I’ll cover this in another post.

Step Three: Correlate the two to define your work

If you take a look at the image at the top of this page you’ll see what I mean by this. And you’ll see the green area which broadens as you sift up through the levels. The trick is in finding the balance between the two.

Importantly, you should not think about ‘a job’. That’s a red herring. Think about the work. What tasks will you actually be doing. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t exist. You can create it and if it really is your calling, you will find a way.

Hopefully that’s some good food for thought. I’ll build on this in some later posts.

Pathway of Self Creation

Men want to grow.  They want to be better.  There is an innate desire within us to improve and evolve.

To improve yourself in any meaningful manner, there is a sequence of events, that have to unfold.

Get Real

You can’t make change unless you’re real about the situation you’re in.  Getting real is about total and utter honesty with yourself.  You have to outline your actual state across all aspects of your life – Physical, Mental, Emotional, Financial, Spiritual.

Are you fat?

Are you unmotivated and lazy?

Are you depressed, sad, guilt-stricken or scared?

Are you wasteful?

Are you disconnected?

Without total clarity on the truth of all these matters, you will never make improvements.

Realise that as man, your journey requires pain.

‘Men are created through trial by fire”

Quote from Masterdym of the Fraternity of Excellence

As men, we must burn ourselves down through pain and suffering, to build ourselves back up.  You cannot achieve any change in your life, without pain.  The body you want, requires pain, exertion and sweat.  The motivation requires accountability.  The emotional fortitude requires the deep dive into yourself to unpick the shit that is holding you back.

All of this will take time in your days.  You will have to sacrifice the lazy-ass habits you have now to make this happen.  No more couch + beer + TV in the evenings.  You have work to do.

Growth requires pain.  Harden up and get that in your head.

Take action.

A physiological change of significance can jolt you into action.  Any step forward is the right step to start with but make it significant.  Run.  Take a long walk or bike ride.  Swim in your local pool.  Whatever it is, do something physical to get the ball rolling and repeat this in your head….  “I am going to do what it takes to change myself for the better” repeatedly.

Find mentors

Total growth is difficult and requires experience to find the right path.  Sure, you can go it alone.  But the truth is that you will hit dead ends, make the wrong moves, and have to learn from your mistakes.  Or, you could learn from others.  Find those that can guide you and coach you, as well as hold you accountable.  It will enable you to grow at a faster rate, with greater return on investment.

Where do you find them?  Online is the best place possible.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where it is hard to find men who value being the best version of themselves.  It’s unlikely you’ll find them within your current circle.

Key starting points for me were Podcasts and Blogs produced by men I’m now proud to call my friends, Masculine By Design (Craig James) and The Family Alpha (Zac Small). 

Getting a coach is a good move if you need personal support.  There are men out there who can help.  I am here if my words resonate.  Coaches will come at a financial cost; any good coach will value their time.  You get what you pay for. You can find the best at the Fraternity of Excellence if accepted.

Make a plan and execute

If you’ve done the above, you’ll have some visibility on the areas you need to improve and how you can most effectively go about them.  If you situation is anything like mine was, it will be like drinking from a fire hose.  So, a plan is critical.  Key things to consider:

Sequence 

Determine where you should start to get the best value.  There will be effort that you can put in which has benefits across multiple facets of your life.  Be intentional and act in design. 

Dependencies

Some facets will be dependent on others.  The simplest example is the link between the physical and the mental/emotional.  Your physicality underpins the others.  There are multiple examples of this.

Alignment of effort 

As you bite off one matter at a time, align your efforts.  Read about the area you are working on, while acting on it.

Don’t Stop

This journey is permanent. There is no obtaining the best version of yourself, without continued effort. The steps you have taken to make change are permanent fixes, not short term steps.